Today, we remember Kanshiram Saheb on his 87th birthday. His followers, admirers, friends and many others will be remembering him but it is a fact that his presence is being missed desperately particularly by the Bahujan movement which is facing extreme political crisis in the absence of growing expectations of the masses and failure of the political parties particularly those which claim Bahujan legacy, to respond to it.
In his second term, the Narendra Modi government has been on war with the opposition and citizens who dissented against various policies of the government.
The aim of the ruling party people is to discredit political dissenters and term them anti-national. They have used all their terminology in the dictionary but a few things done last year have resulted in nationwide disquiet which failed to get a strong response from the parties like BSP who people wanted to be more active and which Manywar Kanshiram had built so laboriously travelling across the country and bringing so many diverse communities at one platform, giving them home and aspiration. Unparalleled.
That those who never tested power even in the Panchayat became big leaders and were made to contest from unreserved constituencies and won it.
Such voices face extinction now as the power of money dominate and political leaders misuse the term ‘ I am opportunist’ remark of Kanshiram Saheb to suit their corrupt practices. It was clear that he used the term opportunist that for the welfare of his people he is ready to go to any extent but none can ever blame him for being corrupt and not working towards the interest of the Bahujan Samaj. BSP, as a political party came out from a powerful Bahujan movement with strong Ambedkarite leanings and therefore the expectations of the common people today are similar as they used to be in those days. In the greater interest of the people, we don’t kill the party or weaken it but play a bigger role in democratising it and making the leadership understand that people are expecting that the top leadership respect their sentiments.
Things are changed now and we cannot have same sets of standards. When Kanshiram Saheb started his movement, his faith was on his people, Ambedkarite in unknown villages and towns who joined him and trusted him. That trust was never betrayed and people got space in the leadership and he nurtured them. Today, the youths of India have been crying and speaking against anti-people policies of the government. The Universities are being targeted, reservation under the threat, political dissent being crushed, lock down in Jammu and Kashmir with more than 7000 political activists including former chief ministers in jail and there was not much response by the political leadership but the silence or calculated silence on anti CAA protests as well as on the violence against Muslims and targeting to them by the police both in Delhi as well as Uttar Pradesh should have been responded in a much powerful political way but merely reading out from text or sending messages without addressing media, no attempt to reach out the communities reflect the ideological crisis of the leadership.
Why we say so because Ambedkarite do not suffer from ideological inefficiencies like the Brahmanical secular with their ‘balancing’ act of ‘sarv-dharm-sambhav’.
For us secularism is making spaces for the most marginalised, respecting Constitution and dedramatizing political forums and cultural spaces. We all know that the protests against CAA, all over India showed how the country was embracing Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar and his thoughts. How people were finding that Ambedkarism and his progressive, democratic ideas are the only way to fight against Brahmanical hegemony and their methods to divide people through creating false narratives. Ambedkarite actually know these narratives better than anyone else in India because they are in the best position to expose them.
But this opportunity was allowed to go. The breaking up of alliance with Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh was a big setback as it is well known fact that it was BSP which gained from such an alliance. Akhilesh Yadav had shown a lot respect and his learning capacities to understand Dr Ambedkar and his philosophy. I have been a critique of Samajwadi Party’s campaign attempt against Dr Ambedkar in the past when the party tried to pitch Lohia against Dr Ambedkar. The fact is Lohia wanted Dr Ambedkar to be the leader of a united opposition. For all his misadventure, the alliance between Samajwadi Party and BSP could have worked as it ignited the cadres of both the parties and they felt that the good old days of ‘mile Mulayam Kanshiram, hawaa ho gaye Jayshree ram’ will come back. While the parties failed Infront of a massive onslaught by the BJP through divisive campaign, the breaking up of an alliance unilaterally by BSP was the big jolt. It trashed all the hopes of the people who felt that a combined strength and a long-term coalition of the Bahujan is the only guarantee to defeat the Brahmanical forces particularly in Uttar Pradesh.
Now, we are hearing that another party is being launched today. I am not much fond of party politics but somewhere these are the failures of the BSP leadership to handle the issue with care. Now, if Chandrashekar azad makes a party, it can only damage BSP in Uttar Pradesh. It will be difficult to build up the confidence and Brand like BSP and that is why I am off the opinion that BSP leadership must introspect and include young leaders particularly those Ambedkarite who are emerging from the Universities. Provide them space, not necessarily party ticket but send them to work among communities, build up and support cultural spaces and social movements. Keep critique close or at least read them as the ‘bhaktas’ only damage the party as they never give a correct picture of the masses who are getting disillusioned.
It is time the BSP rededicate itself to the philosophy of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar by reaching out the masses as Manywar Kanshiram Saheb had done by travelling across the country. Can the new young aspiring leaders of party be asked to make a move, leave their Scorpios and pick up a cycle or walk through the dusty lanes and wadas and tolas of the villages to connect to the people and assure them that party stand with them and their rights. While a lot of time is wasted yet it is not over. Can the BSP leadership do it now.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
March 15th, 2020